Thanks to Ali Meller for this great regatta report. This is the last event of the 2021 season, so thanks all for a great year of getting back to it and we will see you in Clearwater in a remarkably short time.
5o5 Santa Cruz Regatta
The November 13-14 505 Santa Cruz Regatta was held at SCYC in conjunction with the I420 Pacific Coast Championship. With many California teams having their boats in the 53 foot truck trailer now in Florida for the 2022 Mid Winters and 2022 North American Championship, there were only seven 5o5 teams racing. But it was a strong fleet none-the-less with current 5o5 World Champion driver Mike Martin teaming up with past North American champion crew Reeve Dunne, past World Champion and multi-time North American champion driver Howie Hamlin racing with past World and NA champion crew Jeff Nelson, and 470 Olympian (four times!) Stu McNay driving for Eric Anderson.
Three teams: Stu/Eric, Ali Meller/Mike Smith, and Howie/Jeff were able to practice Friday afternoon in 5-7 knots, mostly going upwind. The biggest improvements were made by getting rid of kelp on the foils!
It was light air with wind from 230, then 220, then 260-ish. Crews trapped high at times in race four, it was sitting on the seat tanks or even crew sitting on the centerboard trunk cap the rest of the time. The races were short; most were two laps, one race was just the one lap. After five races, Stu/Eric were leading with three bullets and two seconds, Howie Hamlin/Jeff Nelson were lying second, Mike Martin/Reeve Dunne third. Aaron Ross/Rob Waterman and Ali Meller/Mike Smith were able to break into the top three (finishing third) once each, though both these teams were frequently doing better at the first windward mark.
A detailed debrief (more focused on setup than tactics) was held on SCYC’s lower deck, over pizza and beer. In the lighter (non trapezing, no wire running) breeze the focus was on:
- minimizing return in the lower part of the Glaser main
- different ways to bend the mast (shroud tension, ram up, and in one case tensioning upper shrouds) to flatten the main
- rake: teams that could go forward of 25’ 8” (3’ 4” measured forward) did so
- some teams raked the centerboard forward
While not relevant to Saturday’s racing, a question was asked about gybe stoppers. Mike Martin has an auto gybe stopper than goes in whenever the spinnaker is up. Mike and Adam also put the gybe stopper in when they rake to 25’ 4” or further back. Howie has a manual gybe stopper and puts it on when raked to 25’ 2”.
There were four more races on Sunday per a Saturday night SI mod allowing more than seven races. The breeze was about 255 when checking on the start line and initially light, similar to Saturday’s. Races were just under 30 minutes each; all were double windward leewards. The breeze increased enough for full trapezing and wire running for the last two races. The fleet consensus was to work the right side of the beat, even when the RC favored the pin at the start. Mike/Reeve were considerably faster once Reeve could get out on the wire, going 1, 2 in the last two races. Howie/Jeff went 3,1 in the last two (and one of those was recovered after dumping at the start, rounding the first windward mark well back, gybe setting, and getting to the leeward mark with the leaders). Stu/Eric won the first two Sunday races, but then seemed merely human, going 2,3 in the last two. They still won overall handily, with Howie/Jeff second and Mike/The legend that is Reeve Dunne (check the results!) third.
Ali/Mike had their moments upwind, rounding the first weather mark with the top teams and in the top three several times, but their downwind speed and sub-optimal tactical decisions dropped them back to fourth in each Sunday race. Aaron/Rob would make up ground downwind. After Saturday’s races there was only one point between Ali/Mike and Aaron/Rob. These two teams somehow managed to find each other on the race course (I really wasn’t looking for them, I swear!) and finished close together in all four Sunday races, including one were Aaron/Rob passed Ali/Mike on the last run, but lost out on late crash gybes to get to the left leeward gate mark and the short reach to the finish. Ali/Mike were fourth overall and Aaron/Rob fifth. Behind them Ryan Nelson/Mike Bishop and Steve Anderes/Nathan Devries traded sixth and seventh places, with Ryan/Mike ending up sixth and Steve/Nathan seventh.
The event also featured the return of the long-lost and now restored Northern California perpetual trophy.
On a personal note, sailing/racing out of Santa Cruz has always felt magical to me; the Pacific Ocean swells and the varied and abundant marine life is so different from other places I have sailed. SCYC is relaxed, welcoming, and friendly. I am grateful that I can store 7200 at Waterat and borrow Larry/Waterat’s trailer to get the boat to/from West Coast regattas. And it was great to see friends again, and race 7200 with Mike.
I hope to see many of you in Florida for the Mid-Winters and North American Championship.